Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film follows a young boy who is sent to live with his uncle in a creaky old house. He soon learns it was previously also inhabited by a nefarious entity.
This was an enjoyable family film that unfortunately was slightly ruined by a terrible cinema experience. Why are people such inconsiderate wankers?
Let me see if I can remember what happened in this movie in between all the chatting, the guy shining his phone light to be able to dip his nachos into his supermarket salsa, and the kid’s LED shoes constantly flashing and lighting up the entire cinema. I was excited for another “scary” family film starring Jack Black after really enjoying watching the first Goosebumps movie with my daughter. Well, I still prefer Goosebumps but this was at least a lot better than Goosebumps 2 (review below). I don’t think this quite has the magic of other family fantasy films and the characters aren’t as strong as I’d have liked although all the actors did well in their roles. When compared to things like A Series Of Unfortunate Events (my kid loves that series) or to something like Harry Potter, this story feels a bit forgettable. It was fun, however, and I wonder if the book was a bit more in-depth and if this adaptation didn’t fully do it justice.
Fuck it – I was so distracted that I feel like an ass even attempting to “review” this. It was entertaining and Black & Blanchettworked very well together. Slight spoiler but, basically, the baddie wants to make everyone in the world disappear to which I replied rather loudly “Can he start with this audience??“. This is worth a watch if you like a slightly dark family film. It’s not for the very young but there’s nothing at all unsuitable for ages 6 or so & up.
My Rating: 6.5/10
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween
Directed by Ari Sandel
Based on Goosebumps by R. L. Stine
Starring: Wendi McLendon-Covey, Madison Iseman, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Caleel Harris, Chris Parnell, Ken Jeong
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The plot follows two young boys accidentally releasing Slappy the Dummy and the Goosebumps monsters in their town, causing a wave of destruction on Halloween night.
This was a very big disappointment. I liked the first film a lot, even though I was too old to read Goosebumps by the time R.L. Stine wrote those (I did read earlier stuff of his). But that series of books is very much the type of “scary & weird” stuff that I loved as a young kid and I was happy to share that movie with my own kid and to have her briefly get into reading the Goosebumps books. But she’s off those now. Damn! I’ll probably never manage to get her into the original Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Hour TV shows that I loved at her age. I was such a weirdo.
The first Goosebumps movie was a great “scary” family film. It was fun and I would imagine that fans loved seeing so many of Stine’s book characters come to life. It had a good story with a great twist for kids (though completely predictable to someone who grew up on The Twilight Zone). The main characters were strong, especially Stine’s daughter, and that relationship was great. The second film is just an inferior copy with weak characters that no one will really care about in the same way. Once again, Stine’s characters are brought to life but on a smaller scale. Slappy is the main star of this one, which is fine as those ventriloquist dummies have always given me the creeps. But so much time is spent on him instead of the character development of the actual humans in the story. Plus, slight spoiler: Jack Black is barely in this film. It’s really not much more than a cameo, which is another huge disappointment if you’re a fan (I am but I know many aren’t). It felt like a TV episode of Goosebumps instead of a movie. Oh well. I’m sure that fans of the books will still get some enjoyment out of it but it feels like a cash grab.
Happy October, everyone! I won’t be doing a month of horror posts like usual as I don’t have the time but I may try to do a couple of horror-related posts as I watched quite a few “scary” films in the past year. But first I’ll do a quick roundup of everything I watched in September.
• Mary And The Witch’s Flower – This is the first movie from Studio Ponoc, which was founded by Yoshiaki Nishimura (formerly of Studio Ghibli). Basically, it’s the new Studio Ghibli as several former Ghibli employees have joined Studio Ponoc. Although Hayao Miyazaki has come out of retirement to make another Ghibli film, expected to be released in 2020… YES!!! But, if this studio is going to be the next Ghibli and this is their first film, I think things may be alright. We’ll see. It’s certainly not up there with Miyazaki’s work (but nothing is). It’s a good start and easily lives up to some of the non-Miyazaki Ghiblis. It’s of the “kid friendly” variety & reminded me the most of Arrietty. I think I may actually prefer Mary And The Witch’s Flower to that one. I’ll review this in full at some point as I try to review all the anime I watch. – 7.5/10
• A Simple Favor – I’ll review this in full sometime. Went in with zero expectations and really enjoyed it. – 7.5/10
• The Rose – I’d somehow never seen this movie in which Bette Midler plays a 70s rock star desperate for fame (it’s loosely based on Janis Joplin’s life). This type of movie is right up my alley and I thought it was quite good while Midler herself was excellent. She was nominated for an Oscar for this performance & won a Golden Globe. Yet I never really hear this movie or Midler’s performance mentioned, despite its song (The Rose) being a big American hit. Worth watching if the movie is your type of thing but it’s definitely not for everyone and people who love mainly just current films wouldn’t like the fairly slow pacing of this one. – 7.5/10
• Brigsby Bear – Really enjoyed this one as well but it’s truly not for everyone. It’s quirky, a little weird, and indie as shit. But it has a lot of heart and is one of the most original stories I’ve seen in a while. Mark Hamill supposedly accepted his role because he was impressed by the script’s originality (I heard that somewhere but can’t find a link regarding this). It’s a “comedy” drama but the comedy is subtle and, more than anything, it’s just a sweet, feel-good sort of film. I highly recommend knowing as little as possible about it beforehand if you decide to watch it as I think going in blind helped my enjoyment. – 7.5/10
• The House With A Clock In Its Walls – Will review in full. It was fun. – 7/10
• American Animals – Will also try to review this. I was disappointed. – 6.5/10
• The Glass Castle – Finally saw this adaptation after thoroughly enjoying the novel (it was my favorite book I read last year). It was my favorite despite not being at all my usual type of thing (it’s a memoir based on the author’s highly unusual and impoverished upbringing). The book was truly fascinating, however, as her parents’ behaviour was so outrageous that it was equally entertaining and maddening to read about. It was also very hard to not be disgusted by their behavior at times, especially the father’s, but the author did manage to somehow create some sympathy toward her parents that didn’t translate as well to film. Woody Harrelson was good as the father but the movie did leave out some of the things he did that would make it too hard to like him. – 6.5/10
• Compliance – This movie is thoroughly messed up, mostly because it’s unfortunately 100% true. I remember hearing about this film when it came out & finding the true story interesting so I looked into it & the Kentucky case (I believe) is what’s shown in this film. This was part of the “strip search phone call scam” that went on for 12 years(!!) across small American towns. From Wikipedia:
“The strip search phone call scam is a series of incidents, mostly occurring in rural areas of the United States, that extended over a period of about twelve years, starting in 1992. The incidents involved a man calling a restaurant or grocery store, claiming to be a police officer and then convincing managers to conduct strip searches of female employees, and to perform other bizarre acts on behalf of “the police”. The calls were most often placed to fast-food restaurants in small towns.
Over 70 such occurrences were reported in 30 U.S. states, until an incident in 2004 in Mount Washington, Kentucky, finally led to the arrest of David Richard Stewart…”
So the point of this scam, I guess, was to see how far people will go when they think they’re being told to do something by an authority figure. It’s scary that so few people questioned the voice on the phone when they were told to do increasingly disturbing things to the female employees who had been targeted. I think viewers won’t believe how far things went in this film and I think it had some bad reviews simply because it’s hard to watch. But, from what I read, nothing is exaggerated (a security camera actually caught it all on film). I’m glad they caught the sick bastard but the scam itself made for a fascinating study in human behavior, I guess. Disturbing. A decently acted film but obviously a hard one to actually “recommend”. It’ll make you angry and the real life girl who was targeted has had a lot of issues since this happened to her. – 6.5/10
• Veronica – To quote Wikipedia again, Veronica is a Spanish horror movie “Loosely based on true events from the 1991 Vallecas case where Estefanía Gutiérrez Lázaro died mysteriously after she used a ouija board“. It showed up on Netflix with a lot of people saying “scariest horror movie ever!” and shit like that. I guess it’s the only horror movie they’ve ever watched? It was a well-made film with decent acting but it’s not something we haven’t all seen before. However, I liked the characters which is always a plus as we don’t often get likeable characters in this genre. I felt for this poor 15-year-old girl and her sweet younger siblings she’s forced to take care of since their mother is always working. It made the film an okay watch as the story itself was a little bland (especially as, from what I’ve read, it’s only very loosely based on the “true” story). – 6/10
• Tetsuo(aka Tetsuo: The Iron Man) – I’ve been meaning to watch this Japanese film for years as I have a weird fascination with body horror (god knows why – I’m a wuss when it comes to violence). I really wanted to see it before doing the list of My Top Ten Body Horror Movies but it wouldn’t have made the list anyway. It’s only just over an hour long but it felt like it was never going to end. The last 20 minutes or so just go on & on & on (I decided to fast-forward). I suppose this movie was shocking in 1989 but we’ve had The Human Freaking Centipede since then, so… is anything really going to gross anyone out in this fucked-up world anymore? Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “A businessman accidentally kills The Metal Fetishist, who gets his revenge by slowly turning the man into a grotesque hybrid of flesh and rusty metal.” I like weird movies and especially love ones with great imagery but the low budget imagery in this wasn’t good enough to make up for the meandering story and the terrible characters. It’s certainly original and one of the stranger films I’ve seen but I didn’t expect to mostly just find it boring. It’s fucked-up, though. I’ll give it that. It’s one of very few movies I have that I’ll have to keep hidden away – you sure as shit don’t want your kids to ever get hold of this one. – 6/10
• The Nun – Meh. I don’t know. This was actually a bit better than the terrible reviews would suggest. I thought it was far better than those idiotic Annabelle movies but far worse than the first Conjuring film. I thought the characters were all fairly strong (as far as horrors go) and I really liked the setting of the secluded old convent or castle or whatever it was. It was fairly creepy & atmospheric and, hell, I think I’m talking myself into liking this one a little more than I thought. I do love a good bit of Satanic horror but there are far better films in that sub-genre. I’ve realized that I’ve watched all of the Conjuring Universe films so far despite not being a huge fan. Here are my reviews & ratings:
• Frozen (2010) – Not the Anna & Elsa Frozen! I didn’t mind this horror film even though it’s a bit ridiculous. Three annoying twenty-somethings are left stranded on a ski chairlift when the resort shuts down for a week (or however long). That’s it. That’s the story. Actually, it ended up being okay and we got to know and like these characters a little. Well, they ended up far less annoying than they were at first at least. They do stupid shit but, to be honest, I’m not sure what I’d do in the same situation. Probably freeze to death. My rating is maybe a little harsh but it did get a bit too silly (and gross) and slightly boring at times. At least it’s far better than that horror movie where three twat twenty-somethings are trapped in an ATM booth thingy by some psychotic killer (in the imaginatively-titled ATM). – 5.5/10
• Re-Watch: Bridge To Terabithia – This is actually a great coming of age movie based on a famous American kids’ book. I’d watched it years ago and hesitated when my daughter asked to watch it recently. It’s controversial for stupid reasons (but you know what uptight Americans are like). I don’t want to give away the plot if you know nothing about it but it’s one you need to look into first before deciding if your kid will be okay watching it. Mine liked it a lot. It’s a lovely, heartbreaking story with strong characters. I’ve ordered her the book now as well. I really should have read it as a kid. – 7.5/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
I didn’t manage to finish any books in September as I’ve been too busy. But I am finally almost done with The Outsider by Stephen King. Pretty good so far but started out slow & took too long for the weird supernatural stuff to happen (which is what I love the most). Also been reading Nightflyers And Other Stories by George R.R. Martin on my phone (digital library book – I’m so cheap!). But it’s too hard to read it through my cracked phone screen so I might have to look for the actual book instead. #FirstWorldProblems
TV SHOWS WATCHED
None. Okay, I’m lying – I’ve been watching America’s Got Talent on Netflix with the kid. She loves it. It’s a simple family thing to watch but I sincerely hate reality TV for the most part. I make fun of the sob stories and all the contrived, phony, “heartwarming” bullshit. Am I evil??? I like that card magician dude, though. I wonder how far he gets. (Don’t tell me!)
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
Nothing planned. As I said, I’m too busy to do my usual horror posts. I’m also way behind on my 2018 Blind Spot reviews. I don’t think I’ll manage to watch all twelve this year.
October Releases I Maybe Want To See:
• A Star Is Born – This is one of those that’ll be up for Oscars so I should watch it. But I don’t really want to…
• Venom – Ha! Horrible reviews so far. I’ll skip it.
• Mandy – Curious about this Nicolas Cage horror as the horror fans on Twitter have been raving about it. Sounds extreme. But I can’t say I fully trust any movie starring Nicolas Cage. Not the bees!!!
• Bad Times At The El Royale – Jeff Bridges and shirtless Chris Hemsworth looking like some super sexy Jesus dude?? Oh yes. I’ll go to this but have to admit it looks like it may be a bit crap.
• First Man – Want to see this but don’t love Damien Chazelle as its director. Am hoping it’s not as millennial as La La Land (sorry!).
• Halloween – Will definitely go to this but with low expectations.
• Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween – Is it sad how much I want to see this?? I want more “scary” family movies!
• Bohemian Rhapsody – I love Queen and adored Freddie Mercury. This could be good or REALLY bad.
• Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot – Looks pretty good but probably a Netflix film. Very indie so doubt it’ll get a wide release anyway.
• The Guilty – A film from Denmark that I’ve only just noticed when looking up movies coming soon. Great reviews & sounds pretty good.
• Slaughterhouse Rulez – We’ll see. Could be awesome! Hopefully it’ll be as good as Shaun Of The Dead.
• Suspiria – First of all, remakes piss me off. Make something new, dammit! Second of all, this isn’t an October release in the UK – it’s out in November. WTF??? Not in time for Halloween? Piss off. It’s starring Dakota Johnson anyway so I’m not exactly thrilled despite almost liking its (derivative) “look” in the trailers.